7. An Archaeological Find That Turned Out to be an Analog Computer Older Than Jesus
After he carefully examined the Antikythera Mechanism’s gears, Professor Price figured out the device’s purpose. It had been used to predict where the planets and stars would be positioned in the sky on any given calendar month. It worked through the movement of the biggest gear, which represented the calendar year. That gear, in turn, moved other, smaller gears, that represented the motions of the sun, the moon, plus those of several planets. From the way, it was made and the manner in which it worked, the device was effectively the earliest known analog computer – manufactured over 2100 years ago.
However, the mechanism’s very existence, and the complexity of its design and manufacture, argued that it must have had earlier predecessors before things reached the high quality of the discovered device. So the world’s earliest analog computer could well have been made centuries before the 65 BC shipwreck. Once it was demonstrated that the archaeological find was an analog computer older than Jesus, researchers tried to pin down its purpose and how it was used. Professor Price’s paper had pointed the way, but when it was published in 1974, and for many years afterward, his findings were persuasive to many, but not quite conclusive.